STOCK Saudi skyline
In 2023, the country welcomed 100 million tourists, achieving Vision 2030 target seven years ahead of schedule. Image Credit: AWS

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector experienced 32 per cent growth in 2023, contributing a record $118.4 billion (Dh434.8 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new report.

The World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2024 Economic Impact Research highlighted these unprecedented achievements in the country’s GDP contribution, employment, and visitor spending.

In 2023, Saudi Arabia welcomed 100 million tourists, achieving its Vision 2030 target seven years ahead of schedule.

The Saudi Vision 2030 is a programme launched by the government in 2016, with the main aim of diversifying its economy away from the oil sector. It has three main pillars- a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation.

The goal was increased to 150 million to reflect Saudi Arabia’s ongoing ambitions for the sector. The sector’s 32 per cent growth last year accounted for 11.5 per cent of the total economy, marking a nearly 30 per cent increase from the previous high and underscoring its critical role in the country’s economic landscape.

Additionally, the sector saw significant job growth, adding 436,000 jobs to surpass 2.5 million, which is almost one in five jobs in the country is now in this sector. Employment in this field has increased by nearly 24 per cent since the previous peak, recovering from pandemic-related losses by 2022.

The report also indicated that international visitor spending surged by almost 57 per cent, reaching $60.6 billion (Dh222.5 billion).